What a turnout for today’s Old Crocks ride. Joining Jem and myself were Keith (ankle), James Pro (collar bone), Colin (fatigued from having been at it all night long last month) and DaveC (birthday hangover).
I’d proposed a route taking in some of the local fun spots, Abba Zabba and TTW3, all linked by some scenic bridle paths and single track. Nobody disagreed with this plan, and after a slightly delayed start waiting for those out partying last night (you know who you are), we departed at 0930.
Dave was demonstrating his command of mtb niches on his singlespeed, rigid carbon-forked 29er with big fat tyres and his trademark swept backed Mary bars. Colin and James were flying the flag for On-One, with Keith and myself supporting the UK built full-sus offerings (Orange and Pace). Jem was giving his Kinesis Ultralight another outing.
Admirals Track to Polesden Lacey and the Yew Trees climb took us up to Ranmore. Jem and I sauntered up at the back, chatting to ensure we didn’t overdo it at this early stage. Badger Run and Collarbone were buried under a thick layer of leaves, but the track is smooth enough not to present too many hidden dangers. I did spot a couple of unclips and dabs on the path up ahead of me, but I’m too discreet to snitch on you, Keith.
I braved the log pile on Trouble in Paradise and carried a bit more speed to avoid the embarrassing stall that nearly befell me on my last attempt. Riding behind Dave on the single track showed his fat tyres were struggling for grip, but my £10 Kenda Nevegal (thanks D-Dub) seemed to fare slightly better, but I suspect it’s time to break out the Mud-Xs.
Discretion overcame valour as we all took the chicken run around the side of Abba Zabba, with James in front of me showing his On-One was also struggling for grip on the greasy surface. We all despatched the rest of the AZ complex with no dramas, accompanied by the sound of shotguns from the fields just below the road.
Having negotiated a group of some 20 or so walkers on the narrow sandy path back to Westcott, we headed for the Mediterranean climb (has it been reclassified as ‘Middle Med’ now?). James hung back to join me as I slowly span up the climb. Jem was looking in good form as he and the rest of the group disappeared from our sight.
After a pause for various snack bars, we tagged on to a group of roadies from Horsham on the final road section up to Ranmore church. At this point we stumbled upon a local cross-country race, which prompted us to head briefly left down the road before taking a sharp right along the bridleway that runs parallel with the ridge line.
TTW3 was great fun, with both wheels drifting in the damp leaf-litter as we weaved down the slope. I was pleased I’d caught up with Dave as he took a sneaky left fork to reveal some new (to me) section of the trail. The second part included a couple of small jumps which were great fun when taken with reasonable speed. I must head back there to make sure I imprint that final section into the memory banks.
We picked up the A24 back to Mickleham, and then headed left over the bridge. Here we bumped into Danielle and Jess from Astounding Adventures, who were out for a ride with their dogs. It was good to see Danielle back on a bike after a severe ankle injury that put her out earlier in the summer. Jess was heading off for a further 3 hours of riding, in preparation for some epic rides planned for next year by the sounds of it.
The original plan was to head up to Norbury and down Infestation, but with Colin heading back alongside the A24, Jem and I decided to ‘save the legs’ and join him. Keith, Dave and James headed off up the hill for their final descent, while we span away to Leatherhead to complete what was around a 17 mile ride for most of us. A great ride for all, I think.